[4 minute read]
Self-doubt sucks zombie balls.
It can become all consuming and paralyze you from actually doing anything that you are truly proud of doing. It’s crippling at its best and ulcer-inducing at its worst. We become so completely in our heads that life whizzes by. We are zoned out, head tilted, doing the zombie shuffle while spouting out random incomprehensible groans. All the while, our minds are like the Hostess truck “Sno Balling” full speed ahead with the wrong treats in the trunk.
Was I being a little too harsh with my kids? Am I spending enough time with my husband? Did I quote that project estimate too low or too high? Am I too strict about damn screen time? Am I inviting family over enough for dinner? Are my kids seeing their grandparents’ enough? Should I have posted that? Was I too judgmental? Did I sound like a jerk?
The issue isn’t self-doubt. The issue is what you do with it when you feel it? Do you dwell in the familiarity of its prickles and clutches or do you move on? It is easily addicting and needs to be stopped in its tracks. I’m not talking about voiding our life of doubt altogether. We all need to leave a little room in our life for doubt and curiosity or we would be a society filled with self-righteous know-it-alls with zero empathy, sub-zero compassion and sub-sub-zero room for growth of any kind.
The operative word here is a little room.
I have been gripped by a self-doubt lately that easily falls off the rails. It goes something like this: Self-doubt turns into overanalyzing which then turns into more self-doubt which then just tosses me down the black hole of an overanalyzing, self-doubting, hot freaking mess. Now THAT’s the life of the party right there, folks!
For those of you who have a flutter of self-doubt and then easily overcome it, you may be thinking, “This is nuts!” You may find yourself screaming, “This is no way to live! Seriously? You think about that stuff?”
For the rest of us, yes. Yes, we do.
I have always been an analytical person. When it’s working for me it has positively and consistently guided me. It helps me connect, foster existing relationships and form incredible new ones. Being analytical can be really helpful when used productively. Decision making can be clearer. Creativity can be sharpened. Problems can be solved. However, the flipside is that it can be equally dreadful when used destructively. Overanalyzing in self-doubt adds fuel to the zombie mind of fear.
The goal is to prevent a zombie mind existence. Zombie mind is toxic and tremendously tortuous to ourselves and our life span. We’re moving without a conscious, clear intention.
Serial self-doubt is actually a way of not holding ourselves accountable. It’s fueling the fire of indecision instead of taking responsibility for our actions.
So, what’s the solution?
The middle ground.
Doubting is not always bad. Doubting keeps us curious. It can keep us wise and questioning so that we are able to see different perspectives which create more empathy and better problem-solving. It allows us to keep learning and growing.
The pros sound fantastic! Wow! Self-doubting never sounded so sexy.
By paying attention. Being aware. Noticing. No matter how you phrase it, that’s the first step to shift gears and course correct.
What I noticed was that along with my responsibilities quadrupling in the past years, so has my self-doubt. My people pleasing is at an all time high. Making everybody happy seems to be a female fix that is never attainable. What we get instead is the awful tag team of resentment and frustration which in most cases lead to more guilt. It’s a really crappy feeling.
Ironically, self-doubt is not too different from self-righteousness. It’s self-consuming and you always think you’re right. Let’s break it down: self-doubt makes it so that you are always right. You either made the right decision and you worried for nothing or you beat yourself up about not making the right decision and your doubt ends up being right. You end up playing an “I told you so” game with yourself.
So, in the end, the real question is: Do you want to be happy or right?
Me? I want to be happy so I decided to stop. There was not some big revelation or moment in my life. I just said, “Enough.”
I woke up and said, “Today, I am going to tell myself that every single decision I make is the right decision. No looking back.” Yes, I did say it out loud. And ya know what? It worked. I had more mental space to be present and focused and clear.
Freakin clarity! Hot damn! I thought I lost you forever.
You know how usually there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day? Well, this day? The day my go-to phrase was “Right decision,”? I had more time than ever. I slowed down, felt more space in my brain and actually felt my brain soften. Is that even possible? Well, I’m saying it is. Did I have moments where I doubted myself? Sure. The difference (big difference) is that I caught myself before I could fall down the analytical abyss never to be heard from again. I said a quick, “Right decision,” and moved on. Moved on. Action trumps thinking here. Don’t think twice, it really is alright.
Or in the wise words of Woody Harrelson’s character, Tallahassee:
Exercise: Wherever you fall on the spectrum of self-doubt, practice living today on the opposite side of the spectrum. If you feel like you’re in the swampy thickness of self-doubt, declare yourself right with your decision and move on.
Some short and quick phrases to help you out:
“Right decision.” “Great decision.” “Right on.” “Next.”
If you’re always sure you’re right, practice leaving even an inch of room (ok, a millimeter) of room for the chance of doubt. Call it curious if that helps you out.
It may be incredibly uncomfortable. That’s the first sign that you’re on the right track!
Make a quick go-to mantra for yourself and share your results in the comments below!
Zombieland (2009, dir Ruben Fleischer) A shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the last Twinkie, and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces to travel across a zombie-filled America.
Columbus: “Oh, America. I wish I could tell you that this was still America, but I’ve come to realize that you can’t have a country without people. And there are no people here. No, my friends. This is now the United States of Zombieland.”